Dr. Wanda Andrews, Lee County School District’s (LCSD) Superintendent of Education, recently received the Aliceann Wohlbruck Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for the Central Carolina Scholars Program. Students who qualify for the program are provided six free semester hours of college tuition at Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC).
Lee County joins Sumter, Clarendon and Kershaw counties in this initiative which began in 2015, upon the realization that the average age of their students was late 20s. The counties concluded that residents were losing years of opportunity to increase their skillfulness and compensation in the workplace, producing an ever increasing disparity between open jobs and qualified employees.
The Scholars Program was created to reduce that gap between high school graduation and enrollment in post-secondary education by providing the first six semesters of higher education tuition-free. It has consistently served as an economic development tool for existing and new industries and will afford expanded higher education opportunities to students in Sumter, Clarendon, Kershaw and Lee counties regardless of their socioeconomic status.
As a result of the regional collaboration, nearly 1,200 students have been involved in the four-year cohort of the program. Of those students, 198 enrolled in 2016; 238 enrolled in 2017; 372 enrolled in 2018; and 391 enrolled in 2019. The Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments confirms a 97% increase in enrollment from the first year of the program to the fourth year.